It was Christmastime.
My parents and I were getting ready to walk into a magical, olden-time Christmas village. I was pushing my stroller, with our infant son snuggled up inside. It was cold and snowy – the perfect time to visit the Christmas village. This was a tradition. We loved always coming here, and I was excited to be joining my family for the tradition again!
I pulled out my camera and was ready to start snapping pictures when a bright red, “no card in camera,” message blinked back at me.
Tears welled up in my eyes and a heavy cloud filled my chest. With a lump in my throat and trying to keep my tears at bay, I said out loud, “The camera card is not in my camera.”
“It’s okay, Lydia. You can use my camera,” my dad replied.
Rationality left me, and I lost it. Tears erupted down my cheeks, as a panicked feeling overtook me.
“No! I have to use my camera! You don’t understand. I need to take perfect pictures. I need to capture everything perfectly for Evan! He’s never been here. He’s your only son-in-law who has never seen Christmas Village and will once again not get to see it! I have to get pictures for him, so that he can experience it somehow!” By now, I was sobbing, irritable and a ready to just grab our son and go back to my parents’ house. I suddenly didn’t want to be there anymore.
My best friend had been standing next to me and gently put her arm around me. She hugged me and calmly suggested that we go to the car and check to see if I had left the camera card in the camera bag. We did just that and sure enough, I found my camera card and suddenly felt incredibly silly.
Why did I behave that way? What was wrong with me?
My husband had left for deployment just two weeks prior. On top of that, we had a newborn – our first. It wasn’t that something was wrong with me. It’s just that I was . . . lonely.
It wasn’t until that irrational outburst that I realized how lonely I was feeling.
Christmas time is when families are supposed to come together, not be pulled apart. It just didn’t seem right to enjoy Christmas and everything that comes with it, without my best friend. There was a hole in my heart that nobody in my family could fill.
It didn’t matter what traditions we did or where we went, I was constantly reminded of the reality that my husband was not there to enjoy it with me. Instead, he was on the other side of the world, in a combat zone, with no good form of communication. I didn’t even know if I would be able to get a phone call on Christmas Day.
The whole holiday just felt empty.
Without the man I loved, I almost just wanted it to go away. I wanted to just curl up and hibernate until New Year’s Day had come and gone. Maybe that sounds selfish. But, the loneliness engulfed me, and I was ready to get this deployment done and over with.
This is the second year my sister is having to face Christmas without her best friend. I see the same flood of emotions sweep over her. But, she doesn’t have an end to look forward to. This is her new normal. Loneliness does not discriminate. It doesn’t just hang around during the holidays, but it feels more prevalent on the holidays . . . the time when everyone is supposed to be together.
If you are feeling lonely this Christmas, whether it’s because of a deployed spouse or a lost loved one, can I offer some encouragement?
It’s okay to cry.
Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s not okay to cry. Crying is a normal reaction to loneliness. Go ahead and cry. And don’t feel like you need to apologize for it.
You don’t have to be strong or pretend you’re not feeling the way you are.
Sometimes it’s easier to just put up a wall to forget the emotions and set aside that lonely feeling. But, all that does is create a dam that is bound to break down later on. Honestly, the people around you understand, for the most part. They know that you most likely will be more emotional without your spouse. It’s okay.
It’s okay to lean into your friends (and family) for support.
Even if some of the people around you don’t truly understand what you’re going through, others will at least be more sensitive to it. I’m so thankful for my friend who wrapped who arms around me and helped gently pull me back to reality. She didn’t tell me to knock it off. She didn’t say that I was stupid for crying or for being irrational. She simply hugged me and let me have my moment. Then, she helped. Find that friend or family member who will let you cry without trying to fix anything – that friend who will be understanding even when she doesn’t understand.
Remember that God is with you and loves you.
He is holding you with His strong arms, and He feels the pain of your loneliness. Praise the Lord that we have a God who understands our afflictions and feels our pain!
If you are alone this Holiday Season, please feel free to message me so that I can know to pray for you!